Trading Places

From Academic Kids

Trading Places (1983) is the title of a successful comedy film starring Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd and Jamie Lee Curtis. It was directed by John Landis and written by Timothy Harris and Herschel Weingrod.


As an "experiment" and for a bet, two immensely wealthy and patrician brothers, Mortimer and Randolph Duke (played by Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy), arrange for two other men to "trade places":

  • Louis Winthorpe III (played by Dan Aykroyd), a respectable senior employee of the Dukes, is greatly humiliated through the manipulations of the Dukes. He is falsely accused of theft and drug dealing, he is fired from his job, and in short order he loses his home, his possessions, and his money. With the loss of his money and his status, his friends and his fiancee turn their backs on him. The speed with which this happens drive Winthorpe to crime, culminating in his charging through the Duke & Duke Christmas party with a loaded gun. However, he is supported by the prostitute Ophelia (played by Jamie Lee Curtis).
  • Beggar and hustler Billy Ray Valentine (played by Eddie Murphy) is given Winthorpe's job, house, butler (played by Denholm Elliott), and other possessions. Finding himself in a much improved situation, and no longer having any need to break the law, Billy Ray starts to behave like a responsible and honest citizen.

When Billy Ray finds out about the Dukes' bet and their intention to put him back on the streets, he seeks out the destitute Winthorpe and explains the situation. Along with Ophelia and Coleman the butler they devise a plan to take revenge. The Dukes' arrangement of using inside information to earn money on the commodities market is made to backfire when Winthorpe and Billy Ray intentionally and surreptitiously feed the Dukes' false information. This causes the Dukes to misplay the market and bankrupt themselves in the process. Simultaneously, Billy Ray and Winthorpe use the correct information themselves to get rich.


Curtis and Elliott received BAFTA awards for their roles, and the film was also noted for returning veteran Hollywood actors Ameche and Bellamy to the screen.


The Duke brothers' attempt to corner the orange juice market is very similar to the real-life case of the Hunt brothers of Texas, who attempted to corner the silver market with the help of Arab investors. Eventually, the "Silver Thursday" market crash of March 27, 1980 devalued their silver holdings enough to make them fail to meet their $100 million margin call and forcing them to declare bankruptcy.

The outside shots of the Duke & Duke building are reused in Andy Richter Controls the Universe.

The Duke brothers later appear as two homeless men in Eddie Murphy's 1988 movie Coming to America.

Mark Twain's The Million-Pound Banknote also stars a bet over a helpless man, but the protagonists are kinder.

sv:Ombytta roller (film)Template:Film-stub


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools